As you may know, Monday nights are my nights to do what fellow food blogger Wasabi Prime has termed “MacGyver Cooking.” This term comes from a television show called MacGyver that ran from 1985-1992. If you are unfamiliar with the character for which the show is named, here is a little blurb from wikipedia: “MacGyver employs his resourcefulness and his knowledge of chemistry, physics, technology, and outdoorsmanship to resolve what are often life-or-death crises. He creates inventions from simple items to solve these problems. These inventions became synonymous with the character and were called MacGyverisms by fans. MacGyver was unlike secret agents in other television series and films because, instead of relying on high-tech weapons and tools, he carried only a Swiss Army knife and duct tape.”
MacGyver is an extremely resourceful person who uses what he has on hand (things which are usually cheap, by the way!) to solve a problem. So, MacGyver cooking, or “MacGyverizing my dinner” is something that I do almost every Monday night when all that’s left in the kitchen are a few odds and ends and I have a dinner problem to solve. This week, I had half a box of bowtie pasta (I’ll post about what I did with the other half of the box later!), two cans of salmon, a can of chickpeas, some red onion, celery, parsley, a lime, and half a bottle of that yummy Newman’s Own lime vinaigrette from the spinach salad with avocado post a few days ago. Using my santoku knife rather than a Swiss army knife (as MacGyver would), this is what I came up with:
I absolutely loved eating this. The textures were so interesting and pleasing – crunchy celery and onion, al dente pasta, meaty salmon chunks, and chickpea-textured chickpeas. The fresh lime and lime vinaigrette made the whole dish tangy and bright with just a little hint of sweetness (from the dressing). It looks very pretty, too. I was very impressed with this dish and would make it again for a pot-luck or picnic in a heartbeat. There are tons of leftovers, and I’m so looking forward to having another bowl for lunch.
The pasta I used was Barilla Plus, which contains more protein, fiber, and Omega-3 than regular pasta. It tastes and looks virtually identical to regular white pasta. The boneless, skinless canned salmon was Chicken of the Sea brand. All Chicken of the Sea canned salmon is wild, Pacific salmon, which makes me happy because it is much cheaper than fresh wild salmon, and the Environmental Defense Fund says that, “Salmon caught in Alaska … are among the better-managed fish stocks in the U.S. They are also low in contaminants.” They say that it is safe to have four or more meals of wild salmon per month. Farmed salmon is a very different story. The EDF warns that adults should eat no more than ONE meal per month of farmed salmon, and that salmon farms “pollute surrounding waters with waste and chemicals.” By using canned wild salmon, I can enjoy a healthy, cheap meal with one of my favorite types of fish. The chickpeas are, of course, very healthy too. Nutritiondata.com says of chickpeas, “This food is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Folate, and a very good source of Manganese.” They also taste great and have a texture that I really enjoy.
This meal was a cheap one indeed. The entire dish used about $1 of pasta, $3 of salmon, $0.75 of chickpeas, $1 of dressing, $0.30 of fresh lime, and $0.75 of celery, parsley, and onion, which brings the total cost to $6.80, if my math is right (and I’m always worried that it isn’t – Aaron will check in a moment when I get this posted, I’m sure). We will probably get five servings out of this. That means that this dish costs $1.36 per serving! You can barely buy a 24-ounce soda out of a vending machine for that. Wouldn’t you rather have a nice bowl of Cool Pasta Salad with Lime, (wild!) Salmon, and Chickpeas?
I expect you’ll be wanting a recipe now. Here it is.
Recipe for Cool Pasta Salad with Lime, Salmon, and Chickpeas (makes about 5 servings):
What you need:
- 1/2 box of Barilla Plus bowtie pasta
- 2 5-ounce cans of wild salmon, excess liquid drained and fed to the cat
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 ribs of celery, diced
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup of parsley, finely chopped
- juice of one fresh lime
- 1/2-3/4 cup of Newman’s Own Lighten Up Lime Vinaigrette (or make your own lime dressing)
- salt and pepper, to taste
How to do it:
- Cook the pasta in boiling, lightly salted water until al-dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, until pasta is cooled off. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl and combine with the salmon, chickpeas, celery, onion, parsley, lime juice, and 1/2 cup of the lime vinaigrette. Toss the ingredients together to combine. If the pasta salad seems too dry, add more lime vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- You can enjoy this right away, if you like, or allow the salad to get really good and cold in the fridge for a couple of hours before enjoying.